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Media Literacy Review
Center for Advanced Technology in Education - College of Education - University of Oregon - Eugene

New Findings Unveiled

Bill Walsh, Contributing Writer

In a dramatic and startling announcement from his home in Billerica, Massachusetts yesterday, writer, teacher, and media know-it-all Bill Walsh announced his conclusion that watching TV actually INCREASES a person's intelligence. The hastily-called press conference drew a small number of reporters, but the impact of Walsh's announcement is certain to be felt as far away as North Billerica and even Pinehurst.

Waving a recent copy of Newsweek magazine, Walsh pointed to a story which asserted that IQ scores have been rising sharply all around the world since the 1940's.

"Hey! It's in Newsweek magazine!" Walsh said. "OF COURSE it's true!

No, I didn't read the whole story, but just look at the graph if you want proof! A graph! In color! In a national magazine! What more proof could you want?"

Sure enough, the graph showed that the average IQ score in the United States has risen 15 points since 1942; British scores have risen 27 points (but that's because they had more room for improvement). Scores from Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and Israel also showed a dramatic rise in the past 54 years.

"Some expert in the story says that these gains are worldwide", Walsh reported, and that "there's not a single country where IQ scores have decreased." Walsh said he didn't recall the name of the scientist quoted in the story, but that interested reporters could look it up for themselves.

Experts are hard pressed to explain the reasons for this phenomena, but -- freed from the requirements of scientific analysis -- Walsh is not. He KNOWS why scores have risen so high recently.

"Now, what's changed these last 54 years? What could be responsible for these dramatic changes?" Walsh asked rhetorically. "The educational system in every country in the world? Nope. The general level of intelligence of earth's citizens? Hardly. It's TV! Television!"

"I forget exactly when TV was invented," Walsh admitted, "but I think it was invented by Milton Berle or John Cameron Swazye around the 1940's or 1950's," he said. And that's just approximately the exact point at which we see these IQ scores start to go up! Everybody keeps saying how people are watching more and more TV every year. Well, here are the results!"

"America exports TV programs all over the globe," he continued. "They're watching our sitcoms and game shows and dramatic series all around the world. And the influence of American TV is unstoppable! We're making the whole world smart!" (?)

Walsh pointed to game shows like "Jeopardy" which increase general knowledge, and school-based programs like "Welcome Back Kotter" and "Head of the Class" which were blatantly educational in nature. Other programs, he asserted, were more subliminally instructional. "Who was stranded on Gilligan's Island with the skipper and Gilligan and the millionaires and the girls, huh?" he asked. "The Professor. The Professor! Get it? Education! And, of course, the intellectual value of Geraldo and Oprah and Jerry Springer is well known."

News of the increase in IQ scores is proof in nubibus of the educational effect of TV, he said.

Walsh also announced the first ever "All TV Week," an effort to capitalize on the demonstrated educational value of the medium.

"You've heard about TV Turn Off week," he said. "It was probably started by a bunch of anti-intellectuals -- or maybe it was begun by people with high IQ's who just didn't want other people to get as smart as they were! Well, I'm sponsoring TV Turn On Week! It will be a week where everybody will be urged to watch TV as much as they can. Just think about how THAT will affect us as a society . . . as a world . . . as a human race." He seemed to wipe away a tear.

One reporter questioned what Walsh intended to do with this new information.

"I'm writing a book," Walsh answered. "It's called: "I Upped My IQ by Watching TV. UP YOURS!""

The other one asked if Walsh had established a secret, secluded compound -- somewhere his followers could gather and study his findings. He appeared relieved when Walsh replied that he had not.

Not yet.

Bill Walsh is the A/V Media Specialist at Billerica High School, Billerica, MA.